Kelli’s Korner – Prep work and Winning the US Amateur
Prep Work …Find What Works for You
Prep work is the key to performing your best at big events…it is as
simple as that. The challenging part is learning what works for you as a
player to elevate your game at the right time. Timing is everything…
The stakes are high and most of us are guilty of putting more
pressure on the big events. I did this throughout my junior and
professional career. I always set goals for myself at the beginning of
each year. Then, I would set smaller goals that pertained to my playing
schedule. I would rank my goals in order, and basically gear my entire
season towards my Top 3. It took some time for me to find the right
program, but I found my recipe for success as a junior golfer and
carried that with me throughout my LPGA career.
Preparation was one of the aspects of golf that I loved most when I
was playing. I knew that in order for me to perform my best, I had to
have a plan mapped out for success. I would schedule tune-ups with my
Instructor several weeks prior to the tournament. This always allowed me
the opportunity to fine-tune the hiccups, without being too close to my
big event. I would typically set aside a few hours in the morning to
work on technique, then, spend the afternoon on course.
I still believe that one of the trickiest aspects of golf is how to
adjust what you are working on with your technique, without being too
technical on course, while you are trying to score. That can be a tough
balance. But, you will notice the transition starting to happen and you
soon find the groove you were searching for and your scores start to
reflect your work.
The key to all of this is timing. The most challenging aspect of
peaking at the right time is finding what works for you in order to play
your best. Set your goals, do the work, attempt to enjoy the process,
and look forward to playing some great golf when you are at your next
Winning the US Am’s…
What can I say about winning two US Amateur’s? I remember both wins
vividly…I didn’t realize it at the time…but in hindsight…that was the
best golf of my career during that 2-3 year span.
Let me set the stage…I won the US Junior Girls in 1994. I beat Molly
Cooper in the final match at Meadow Lark Country Club in Great Falls,
Montana. That win inspired me to want to achieve bigger and better
things in golf.
1995…The Country Club in Brookline, MA. That was the site of the US
Amateur. I remember registering for the event and catching a glimpse of
the trophy…it is still to this day the most incredible and beautiful
trophy I have ever seen. Then my Mom told me she had the perfect table
for that trophy to go on in our house…that was all the motivation I
I remember my first match. It was against Caroline Peek. She was a
bomber and could take advantage of the Par 5’. Here’s the thing: her
power didn’t faze me a bit. Match play is such a mental thing. You have
to keep the momentum steady and never get too high or too low…the second
you loose focus is when you start getting beat. It is imperative to
stay in the moment and focus on the shot at hand. I hit Driver, 5 wood
into the 1st hole. Caroline hit Driver, mid iron. I made par and was 1up after the 1st. I kept chipping away at my matches…one match at a time…and I kept winning.
I remember my match against Kellee Booth. She was one of my biggest
competitor’s during my Junior Career. She was a very talented and well
rounded player. That match went to the 18th. I won it 1up. That’s when I knew I was going to win my first US Amateur.
I played Se Ri Park (now known as Se Ri Pak) in the semi finals. I
beat her 5&4. She paved the way for so many of the Korean players
and was inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame in 2007 at 30 year’s old.
I remember my warm up for the final match. I always start my warm up
with wedges. Here I am on the biggest stage of my career and my first 3
shots were hosel rockets. My palms started sweating, my heart started
racing and I thought, “holy crap…here I am and I have the shanks.” I did
the only thing I knew to do…I stood further away from the ball and my
“Spanish Fades” disappeared. My final match was against an Australian
player name Anne Marie Knight…I won that match 4&3.
Let’s go to 1996…Firethorn Country Club in Lincoln, Nebraska. I was
the defending Champion. I took one look at “my trophy” and knew I had to
bring it home to go on my Momma’s table. So I did just that. I beat
Marisa Baena in the finals and won 3&2.
Here’s what I remember most about my wins…consistency and the will to
never quit. Let’s face it…everyone is talented when you get to that
level of competition…but the person who wins is the one who stays the
most even keeled and doesn’t get ahead of themselves. The one shot at a
time mentality is a must.
My advice to any young aspiring golfer: work hard, but most
importantly…have fun. Commit yourself to small goals each day and when
you achieve your daily goal…leave for the day and do something away from
the course. Expect that there will be highs and lows…don’t give the
lows too much merit. Focus on the highs and keep building on them…that
will do nothing but help develop and build confidence. Confidence is a
tricky thing…but it is a vital component to successful golf. And like I
mentioned earlier…have fun and enjoy the walk…golf is an incredible
game…don’t ever lose sight that it is in fact just a game.
Fairways and Greens,